The greenhouse workers loaded everything into the three five-ton trucks. Pieter Degrew had been growing crops, flowers, and trees of every sort for at least the last forty years since he was a teenager. He hoped to take his livelihood to a safe place so that once all the madness ended, he would once more be able to grow food and plants for the people of the Fraser Valley.
There were only a few of them left at his greenhouse business now; most of the seasonal workers fled when the Covid-19 went from a pandemic to what became known as the “Infection.” His own son Jakob was the first to die from the “Infection” and come back from death terrifying the workforce. At least two of his works and a nephew had met similar fates and were burned in the back portion of the property with old crops and timber.
Pieter held his old hunting rifle as he stepped outside the large gates of the Honaver Nurseries & Greenhouses. A moment later, he signalled the lead truck to start to turn out onto the road in the opposite direction of the city he called home. He looked down Prairie Road; he looked up Prairie Road. He waved the second and then the third truck forward as the third and final truck left the compound; he secured the gate, wondering if he would ever return to the business he built over his lifetime.
Pieter walked cautiously to the lead truck, speaking to the drivers of the other trucks as he went. They had all been over the plan numerous times, but he did not want to leave anything out, for he learned that the unexpected will always happen in his many years of business. As he climbed into the passenger side of the lead truck, he was curious as to what he had forgotten to plan for and what he had over planned for.
“O.k. Juan,” he said. A moment later, the Honaver Nurseries convoy was driving in the direction of a town called Hope.
As they drove near the old Paterson Horse Stables, Pieters radio crackled, “Yes, it is us, “he said over the truck commercial radio. Several smaller trucks, passenger vehicles and motorhomes followed his truck. His convoy was now complete.
They drove toward the highway over past, the eerie sense of being watched crept over the convoy. Pieter planned to make it to the Yellow Duck head in the Bridal Falls area within two hours. Before the “Infection,” this would have been a half highway drive, " but now everything moved slower and more cautiously.
Nova sat between the two men in the lead truck; she fiddled with the radio control until the “Chilliwack One” station could be heard. Pieter had twice over commercial radio spoken to these people that broadcasted over the airwaves; he did not know if he trusted them but did not see many other choices left. No Power, no business, and the constant threat of raids from desperate people made staying at the nursery not a safe choice any longer. He was not sure what exactly awaited at the giant Duck head just off the freeway, but if that looked too dangerous, he was prepared to push all the way through to Hope.
Juan had grown up in Central American and had learned a few essential things in his homeland. The first being when driving through dangerous areas, do not go slow; go as fast as you can travel; those that seemed to travel very slow never did well. As they started over the Gibbon overpass, he pressed the pedal far down, stared straight ahead and said a silent prayer.
Moments later, they were going down the far side of the overpass and preparing to turn past the Eastern School, where many local children had spent their first years of education. The truck moved past. They could see several farms abandoned, and others seemed to be fortified. Above them, they could see two large helicopters pass overhead, everyone had seen helicopters and planes, but these were becoming much rarer to view day by day.
Pieter was shocked as they drove through Rosedale, so many abandoned or looted places, more and more “Infected” wandered the streets, and the streets were hazy now with smoke. He wondered how many of them found refuge. Less than a month ago, he had been in the local hardware store they were passing; he settled his account there, bought all the wire and locks he could and bid them all good luck.
Marie sat in the Canadian gasoline lot with her three companions; they would monitor the roundabout for a convoy of people from a couple of greenhouses and a horse farm. It seemed so long ago that she spent her days in her small office worrying about court dates, child custody issues, and whether her favourite cat liked its kibble. Now two months later, she carried a sidearm, drove at insane speeds, and listened for hours on end to static on commercial radio waves.
Griffin signalled from the shed near the fast-food coffee bar; several vehicles were approaching at high speed. His second signal indicated they were not alone. Marie waved to those with her as they began to take up positions; she still remembers the church group two weeks ago that appeared to be in trouble but were on the hunt for good Samaritans. Everyone took up positions and waited.
Howard Quantrill was not sure at first of what he saw coming through the smoky haze, but soon he knew for sure what it was. He swerved the old motor home across the road with motorcycles and lots of them and then back the other way several times. As his right-front passenger radioed the other vehicles in his convoy, two others in the motorhome grabbed items they had ready for such an incident.
Skid, a longtime member of the Knight Riders, moved his motorcycle up along the side of an old motorhome. He loved the thrill of the hunt and was looking forward to surprises waited into this old relic for him to enjoy. Skid did not have to wait long as an old cast iron frying pan flew out of a window. He turned his bike hard, missing the frying pan, but a selection of kitchen cutlery struck him and the front of his motorcycle. A moment later, he lay in a blackberry bush with a spoon stuck in the side of his helmet.
Raman moved his three-wheel chopper along the side of a red pick-up truck, with his left hand on the handlebars; his right hand and wrist started swinging a large grappling hook. He moved his Chopper closer to the pickup truck laughing as he did. Two preteens lying in the pickup's rear crouched up over the edge of the truck bed and tossed numerous toys and inflatable pool toys at the Chopper. Raman’s hook clung onto a dollhouse as the Chopper tipped over to one side and the following motorcycle flipped over the three-wheeler.
As the convoy turned in the roundabout, Marie sighed, “Knightriders, what a waste of space.” She placed her weapon in her holster as the remaining motorcycle riders backed away from the convoy.
The convoy moved back across the highway and entered the “Bridal Falls” Pieter had been warned not to stop at the café just before the Duck head, no matter how tempting things seemed. The convoy sped by a young man and a darkly dressed lady another two hundred meters down the road.
Marie once the last of the convoy passed, sent some of her crew down Yale Road to drop some first aid kits and take the fallen Knight Riders weapons away for the third time. “Marie, convoy coming your way, all looked good, the played with Knight Riders and won the match easily.”
Marie drove her SUV down the road till she came upon Skid slowly limbing down the road. She pulled up near him and tossed him a bottle of water, "Skid you look a mess,"
Before Skid could say a word she accelerated her vehicle and drove down the road. Skid waved a finger at her, knowing they would meet again sometime in the near future. A moment later Skid pulled the spoon out of his helmet and was about to toss it away, but instead put it in his pocket.
Pieter exited the truck as per earlier instructions while everyone else stayed in their vehicles; after several minutes, one man appeared out of the brush. He introduced himself as Patrick, a former high school principal; he explained that there were two camps of survivors nearby. They worked together, and no one was permitted to stay who could not follow the rules and work.
Pieter looked into Patrick’s eyes, “We are not afraid of hard work and will fight to protect that which we build.”
Patrick smiled, “I heard the Knight Riders learned a few new purposes for cutlery and such.”
An older small pick-up truck appeared with two people in the rear holding weapons. Pieter was instructed to have his truck follow this truck. The truck led them down a poorly paved road into the side entrance of a Water Slide Park many had visited over the years. As each vehicle drove to the compound entrance, the vehicle was stopped, and a few questions were asked of them.
“Do you have a criminal record?”
“Did you get your vaccine during Covid-19”
“Are you half-dead?”
“Any Infected travelling with you?”
“Any firearms, sharp weapons, liquor or street drugs were to be reported at the interior checkpoint.”
Patrick went around the rear of Pieter’s truck with him and the driver Juan. Juan unlocked the door; he pushed the door open. Many stood in surprise when they saw large carts filled with Marigolds, hanging baskets and tomatoes plants. Patrick slapped Pieter on the shoulder, smiling, “My friend, you are going to make us the best-looking refugee in Western Canada.”
A week went by before Pieter looked over the rows of marigolds along all the large fences. Pieterflowere was soon planted around the entrance of the radio transmitter and two other sites. At the end of one long day, he sat by his trailer. He was exhausted and so pleased with himself. A small girl approached him with a little bouquet of marigolds; in her tiny voice, she said, “Marigold’s for Pieter,” with a large grin on her face.
Harold Matthews stood with Patrick near the gates of his once-thriving Recreational Vehicle Holiday Park. He opened a bottle of cold beer, “We might just get through this,” he said.
About the Creator
A Fifty something male that enjoys writing short stories, scripts and poetry. I have had many different types of work over my lifetime and consider myself fairly open minded and able to speak on many topics.